Skip to content
ALDOT News Hub

Meet Millie – the top dog of work zone safety

Millie the Alabama AGC Workzone Safety Dog billboard
Millie the work zone safety dog.
Apr 17

Millie, a Labrador Retriever certified therapy dog and the official safety dog of the Alabama Associated General Contractors (AGC), has become a familiar and beloved figure in Alabama. She has traveled to all corners of the state alongside her dedicated human partner, Morris King. For the past four years, Millie and Morris have traveled with the purpose of educating communities about the importance of work zone safety and the dangers of distracted driving. Through engaging programs and public appearances, such as “Lessons with Millie” and “No Phones in the Cone Zone,” Millie has captured the hearts of Alabamians while delivering critical safety messages in an effort to save lives.

Millie’s journey to work zone safety

Morris King might call Millie a “little dog with a big heart,” but her achievements suggest there’s more. A true canine overachiever, Millie isn’t just King’s fifth generation training success story; she’s a multi-talented champion. With titles like Certified United Kennel Club Hunting Retriever Champion, Certified Complex Therapy dog, and even Reading Education Assistance Dog (READ), Millie’s dedication to service is as impressive as her pedigree. From comforting patients in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit to offering emotional support at the SAAD Hospice Retreat, Millie’s big heart has touched countless lives in her Alabama hometown. But Millie’s impressive skillset doesn’t stop there. This remarkable pup has recently taken on a new and unexpected role: becoming a champion for work zone safety.

In 2020, the AGC brainstormed a campaign that would humanize work zones. They considered featuring children navigating mock work zone scenarios, hoping the sight of children would naturally nudge drivers to slow down and be more alert. However, the global pandemic threw those plans for a loop. With everyone sheltering in place, traditional methods were off the table. That’s when King had a stroke of genius, and suggested they use Millie for the campaign instead. By placing Millie in various work zone scenarios, they could still capture attention and deliver their safety message in a way that was both heartwarming and impactful.

The unexpected switch to Millie proved to be a winning strategy. The AGC posted engaging graphics featuring Millie navigating work zones (like the ones you see above) to their Facebook page, promoting safe driving habits. Through word-of-mouth buzz and organic post shares, Millie’s charm quickly captured hearts. This viral fame led to her official appointment as the AGC’s work zone safety mascot. Millie even starred in UA SafeState’s Workzone Safety Awareness PSA in the fall of 2021.

Her dedication, alongside Morris King’s guidance, was further recognized in 2021 when they were named AGC Safety Leaders of the Year for their innovative campaigns launched during the challenging pandemic. Millie was also featured on the cover of the Associated General Contractors of Alabama Build South Magazine Summer, 2021 issue and Associated General Contractors of America Constructor Magazine November, 2021 issue.

“Lessons with Millie:” Engaging kids for safer roads

With Millie taking center stage as the AGC’s work zone safety mascot, a whole new avenue for education opened up. Elementary schools across Alabama welcomed Millie and Morris King with open arms. Millie’s playful demeanor and undeniable cuteness disarmed any initial apprehension, creating a space for important safety lessons.

These presentations, tailored for young minds, are packed with interactive elements to make traffic concepts like slowing down and staying alert in work zones both engaging and memorable. Students even get to take home special coloring books featuring Millie navigating different work zone scenarios. These colorful pages highlight the dangers drivers face if they’re distracted. By emphasizing the slogan “No Phones in the Cone Zone!” King urges students to remind their parents to put their phones down and keep everyone safe on the road.

King always ends his presentations by asking a crucial question: “Who wants to be on Millie’s Team?” He notes that every single student raises their hand. He then reminds them that being on Millie’s Team means being a champion for work zone safety.

Top dog takes the oath: Millie’s Honorary Trooper Ceremony

While Millie’s presence put audiences at ease, King felt an official voice on the dangers of distracted driving could further strengthen their message. In the spring of 2023, he reached out to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) about having a state trooper join Millie and him on their school visits. Since then, a state trooper has accompanied them to every presentation, ensuring a well-rounded approach to work zone safety education.

In the fall of 2023, King jokingly suggested that Millie, with all the awareness she was bringing to the cause, deserved to be an honorary K-9 trooper. This lighthearted comment struck a chord, and on Dec. 14, 2023, Millie’s dedication was officially recognized.

Upon swearing Millie in as an honorary ALEA Trooper, Governor Kay Ivey recognized Millie’s significant impact on the state’s work zone safety initiatives.

“Millie’s commitment to promoting work zone safety is truly commendable. Today, we honor her dedication to both safety and education by officially making her an honorary ALEA Trooper. May Millie continue to inspire us all to prioritize safety on our roads and highways,” said Governor Ivey.

This prestigious title solidified Millie’s role as a safety ambassador, and her partnership with ALEA has only grown stronger.

Millie, a yellow Labrador Retriever, looks up at her owner with her left paw on the Bible as Alabama Governor Kay Ivey pats her head and reads off a sheet of paper.
Millie being sworn in as an honorary K-9 trooper by Governor Kay Ivey

Following Millie’s paw prints

With her wagging tail and unforgettable charm, Millie the work zone safety dog shows no signs of slowing down. This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week , and Millie has been making appearances throughout the state.

This furry ambassador is continuing to educate communities and reminding everyone to stay alert behind the wheel. Thanks to Millie’s tireless efforts, Alabama’s roads can become safer for workers and drivers alike.

When Millie eventually hangs up her hard hat, her eager puppy apprentice, Toot, is already being trained to fill those safety-promoting paws.

To see more of Millie’s journey follow @millie_usa_therapy_dog on Instagram.

Millie, a yellow Labrador Retriever wearing a yellow hard hat and service vest, stands behind a small yellow Tonka truck holding a sleeping puppy in a graphic that says Caution, Precious Cargo in the Work Zone
Millie and her puppy, Toot, that is set to follow in her mom’s footsteps to promote work zone safety.